Why Biblical Prophecy?
Why would anyone want to listen to a prophet or read a book about or written by a prophet? Don’t we have a tendency to be indurated toward all kinds of prophetic teachings? Many born again Christians frequently confuse the false teachings found all around them. This is especially true of the prophetic as so much about biblical prophecy seems wrong or just plain not true? Trying to figure out which system, group, or person has the correct view seems to be a lost cause. So, why should we spend our time listening to or reading about such stuff when there appears to be many much more important things in life? This is our subject of discussion. The answer to these questions is much more important than one may think and is well-worth the effort to explore and understand.
Reasons for studying biblical prophecy are numerous and include[i]:
Putting the believer’s focus on Jesus Christ, the testimony and spirit of prophecy (Revelation 1:1; 19:10). The word “revelation” means “revealing, disclosure, or unveiling.” This message was given to Christ and He communicated it to John and the angels to show (signify) to His bond-servants the events that would surround the coming of the Lord (I Corinthians 1:7; II Thessalonians 1:7; II Timothy 4:8; Titus 2:13). This is similar to that which Daniel spoke of regarding the God in heaven who would reveal the secrets that are to take place in the latter days (Daniel 2:28-29).
Assisting the believer in becoming holy (II Timothy 4:8; II Peter 3:11-14).
Teaches believers how to live (II Tim 3:10, 14-16; Revelation 1:17; 2:1- 3:22). Timothy, Peter, John and other biblical writers had the correct attitude, which is the fear or reverence of the Lord (Proverbs 1:7; 2:11; I Peter 4:7).
Reveals the promises and blessings associated with the study of prophecy (Revelation 1:3). The blessing is of value only if the message is understandable; thus, God desires His people read, study, and understand this book (Romans 13:11f).
Leads to approval of the believer and deeper understanding of who Christ is (II Timothy 4:8; Revelation 1:5-8, 12-20). This is especially true of the book of Revelation which reveals many of the purposes of God that are yet future and to be fulfilled.
Teaches the believer the importance of being ready and alert (Matthew 24:42). Knowing that the Lord is coming allows and motivates one to get ready to see Him. This also assists the believer in avoiding false doctrine.
Why the Prophets?
We start with a single, very informative verse found in the second Epistle of Peter:
So we have seen and proved that what the prophets said came true. You will do well to pay close attention to everything they have written, for, like lights shining into dark corners, their words help us to understand many things that otherwise would be dark and difficult. But when you consider the wonderful truth of the prophets' words, then the light will dawn in your souls and Christ the Morning Star will shine in your hearts (2 Peter 1:19, TLB).[ii]
A phrase-by-phrase study of this verse is a worthy endeavor.
We have seen (1:19a)
Overall, this verse and the surrounding context (2 Peter 1:1-21) addresses the importance of listening to prophets. Thus, why should we pay attention to the prophets and thereby prophecy itself? Peter states that he, along with the other disciples, were eye (16) and ear witnesses (18) to the things of Jesus Christ (1:16-18) who came in fulfillment of numerous prophecies. These men were chosen by God to witness Him and the related prophetic things while recording them for our benefit (12). Peter is referring back to the context of the earlier part of the chapter. The NLT states it this way, "Because of that experience" (1:19a). Thus, the stage is set for Peter to explain the importance of listening to and reading about biblical prophets and prophecy. This is rooted in his and the other disciples’ experiences.
One such common experience (with James and John) (Matt 17:1-2; Mark 9:2) is found in the three preceding verses (16-18). Here we find one of the four passages which describe the greatest manifestation of the Shekinah Glory of Jesus Christ, known as the Transfiguration. The following three Biblical passages give the details - Matthew 17:1-8; Mark 9:2-8; Luke 9:28-36. Each gives a different account of details even though this was the same event for the three witnesses and the rest of the disciples who were left behind. Peter, James, and John were the eyewitnesses (Mark 9:2).[iii]
Peter proclaims his status as an eye and ear-witness to the events on the Mount. He also declares that he witnessed Jesus being bestowed with glory and honor from the Father. Then he states that he heard the utterance of God, "this is my son in whom I am well pleased." Furthermore, Peter (16) calls Jesus, our Lord and Savior Yeshua. He is emphasizing not only the salvation that comes to us by no other name, but also His Messiahship. Thus, the Messiah was presented by the Father to the world and Peter and two other disciples were eye and ear witnesses to the glorious event.
John gives a different perspective of another eye and ear witness account in the Revelation of Jesus Christ. He informs us that God specifically gave him the words recorded in the Revelation for the purpose of showing “His bond-servants the things which must shortly take place” (1:1b). He then informs the reader that he is testifying “to the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw” (Rev 1:2).[iv]
Tracing the verb “saw” through the book of Revelation is enlightening. John “saw” the following:
Ø A Vision of Jesus Christ (1:12, 13,17)
Ø Things to Come (Chapters 4-5)
Ø A Coming Time of Great Trouble for the Whole Earth (Chapter 6)
Ø Angels of God Carrying out Their Created Purposes (7:2; 8:2; 9:17; 10:1, 5).
Ø A Great Dragon (Chapter 12)
Ø A Second Beast (Chapter 13)
Ø Signs Occurring in Heaven (Chapter 15)
Ø The Time of the Battle of Armageddon (16:13)
Ø A Woman and a Beast (Chapter 17)
Ø The Fall of Babylon (Chapter 18)
Ø The Coming of Christ (19:11f)
Ø The Binding of Satan and Related Judgments (20)
Ø The New Heaven and New Earth (Chapter 21-22)[v]
In addition to observing (seeing), John records that which he heard. This starts with Rev 1:10;
“I was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet” (NASU). John first records hearing the voice of the Lord. He continues to record that which he heard including the voices of angels, every living creature, and the four living creatures (5:11, 13; 6:1; etc.). One can trace the word “heard” through the book in a similar manner to that which is described for the verb “saw”.
And proved that what the prophets said came true (1:19b)
Recall that Peter, James and John had seen, along with Jesus, on the Mount of Transfiguration two of the greatest prophets – Moses and Elijah. However, again it was not the prophets, nor the experience that Peter elevated, but rather it was the Word that they recorded that held great reverence and sway with Peter (I Tim 2:16-17).
The issue is, what Peter, the disciples and Jesus said, is in fact true. How can one make such a statement? For surely, no man such as Peter knows everything, nor holds all truth. Regarding the idea of proof, God's Word translation states it this way: "as confirmed beyond all doubt."
As for the Church, proving what the prophets said entails repentance. For, in His final instructions to the Church we are instructed to remember and repent (Rev 2:5, 16, 22; 3:3, 3:19). This instruction is given by Jesus Christ, the Bright and Morning Star, the one who convicts us, calling us to repentance (II Peter 1:19; Rev 3:19; 22:16).
You will do well to pay close attention to everything they have written (1:19c)
One can begin to understand why Peter can make this rather bold statement. The NLT and NIrV place even greater emphasis on this: "You must pay close attention." Other translations speak of "taking heed" or “paying close attention” (See Appendix A).
Peter further clarifies this point in 1:20-21. Here he states: "know this first of all" (20a, NAS). Thus, knowledge of what is written by the prophets is elevated to the top of the list of things to know.[vi] Knowledge is one of the most important domains in the development of a true biblical-based worldview.
However, the Amplified gives us a different perspective: “Yet first you must understand this” (1:20a). Understanding sheds a slightly different light on the subject by connecting it directly to the issue of the “natural man” versus the one who is born-again and walking in the Spirit (John 3:3; Galatians 5:22-23; I Corinthians 2:14).
It is also an important domain for development of one’s spiritual worldview, as scripture instructs us in the learning of much specific knowledge beyond the prophetic. See II Corinthians 2:14-16 and Romans 1:18-22. The issue of worldview development within a Creator-based worldview is the subject of the book, Developing a Creator-Centered Worldview. In this book the development of spiritual knowledge and its domain is addressed as one of the Educational Creationist-Based Tenets (p. 91). A true biblical based worldview is rooted in the understanding of God as Creator (Genesis 1:1). Such a spiritual conception leads to the understanding that Jesus Christ is Co-Creator and the one who sustains and holds all things in the universe in place (Colossians 1:16-20).
Peter continues to lay the foundation regarding the importance of paying attention to prophecy and the prophets: "no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation" (20b). This moves the focal point off of him and his fellow disciples and outside the mind of man into another realm. So what is that realm? It is the realm of God Himself. This is the realm of God and His personal invisible attributes such as being Creator and possessor of eternal power (Romans 1:20).
Peter further amplifies his point as to why this is true. "For no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but by men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God" (1:21, NAS). Thus, Peter is stating that he is speaking about prophecy and prophets that are part of the Holy biblical record. They are also men who are speaking things from God, not things of man. This places certain limits and understandings on the prophetic word. First, "true biblical prophecy" is already recorded. Second, "true biblical prophecy" comes from the Holy Spirit who is all-knowing and thus able to impart truths that no man could possibly know without some sort of revelation. Third, "all scripture is inspired by God" and thus profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness (II Timothy 3:16). This places the emphasis on the understanding that the bible is the source that one should look to and not some man or modern day so-called prophet.
For, like lights shining into dark corners, their words help us to understand many things that otherwise would be dark and difficult (1:19d).
Here we are reminded of the fact that the word of God brings light to all situations and the very words of the prophets provide light and teaching for the paths of our lives (Ps 119:105; Proverbs 6:23). Furthermore, these Holy Spirit anointed and God inspired words shed light in such a manner as to bring understanding to many things that are dark and not easily understood (IITim 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20f). Thus, their words are explanatory regarding many things that are dark (evil) and difficult to understand. The world that we live in is a dark place and we are told "my people perish for lack of knowledge" making it abundantly clear that there is knowledge that is considered by God to be important for life on this earth. Much of this knowledge is found embedded in the words of the prophets.
In addition, Revelation 1:3 promises us a blessing for reading, heeding and hearing the words of the prophecy (specifically the book of Revelation). In Revelation and the Word[vii] (p. 30-31) we read:
The communication of Christ’s Revelation comes by "His Angel" to John, who is an eyewitness (Revelation 1:2). . . "Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.” (NAS)
This first blessing is for observing or paying attention to what is written and implies continued reading, hearing, and observing. Revelation is the only book of Scripture that contains such a direct promise of blessing; yet, it is so often left unread.
One might wonder why a promise of blessing is attached to the reading of this particular book. Certainly, saints throughout history have experienced blessings from all books of the Bible. Why then this specific promise? It seems that, at least in part, the answer may be found in two aspects.
First, the consummation and all-encompassing nature of the book leads the seeking reader to dig deeper and to observe the totality of Scripture.
With any substantial study of this book, one cannot escape the fact that there must be time spent reviewing and putting together the entire stream of thought presented by the scriptures. Thus, study of this book in particular (unlike any
other book), leads toward developing a complete scriptural understanding of God’s view of history. In this sense, study of the book of Revelation strengthens one’s biblical worldview. In part, this explains why so much confusion exists regarding this particular book.
In today’s world, and for that matter historically, there exists a dearth of knowledge in the area of biblical worldview development. This is true throughout the world and even within the church. Reading, studying, worshipping, and praising—in other words, an active approach to The Revelation—will go a long way toward alleviating biblical worldview deficits that one might have.
Second, the Scripture informs us that faith comes by hearing the Word of God. Because of the all-encompassing nature of this book when reading and hearing it, one is getting an encapsulated summary of the Word of God.
Furthermore, promised blessings will be made available. This time of blessings has the following characteristics: 1) It is a time to awake out of sleep as personal salvation is drawing near; 2) It is a time to get our hearts right before the Lord because the judge is standing at the door; 3) It is a time to be sober, watchful, and in a prayerful attitude.
These characteristics are, indeed, sobering. Since we are in the last days, we know that these are principles that should be guides to our lives as we look for the blessed hope and the appearance of His coming (Titus 2:13).
But when you consider the wonderful truth of the prophets' words, then the light will dawn in your souls and Christ the Morning Star will shine in your hearts (II Peter 1:19).
In this final phrase Peter begins a transition that continues on into verse 20. We now have come full circle, as Peter shifts the focus away from the prophets and onto the one the prophets served and spoke often about. This is none other than “Christ the Morning Star.” In His final recorded words in the scripture Jesus claims to be the Morning Star and clarifies that He sent angels (messengers) to the churches to give assurance that the things recorded in the book of Revelation are in fact true and of high spiritual significance to all in the Churches. He also claims he is root of the offspring of David (See Isaiah 11:1, 10). This root of David is in fact the King of Kings and the one who has overcome the world by the power of His shed eternal blood and the Holy Spirit and His resurrection (Hebrews 9:14).
Thus, this one whom the prophets served and had great reverence for is the one who is able to restore our souls back to fellowship with the Father. He is the one who has paid the price for the sins of mankind and gives us a hope of redemption. Praise God! For Jesus is the God of the prophets and the Church.
We also observe that Jesus brings the Spiritual light to our souls and hearts as we become enlightened beings upon becoming born again (John 3:3). With this acceptance into the family of God we are no longer considered by God to be natural men, but rather children of God born into His family under the auspice of Jesus Christ, the head of the church. This Spiritual rebirth and enlightenment brings with it a new level of understanding of the things of the earth and heaven (II Cor 2:14-16).
Finally, dear Christian friends, we must prayerfully heed the words of the prophet Ezekiel, who said blow the trumpet and warn the people (v. 33:3), and of Paul, who wrote awaken from your sleep for your salvation is nearer than when you first believed (Romans 13:11-13). Then Paul said that we are to put on the armor of light for the night is over. Thus, the great call of the Savior Jesus Christ, “Come up Hither” is about to become a reality. My friends, as you look for and await the blessed hope, pray without ceasing for mercy and grace. I pray that you fellow believers are able to say with great earnest and eagerness - “Maranatha”!
 Indurate means to be made hard, or obdurate, or to grow hardened toward something. Thus one can grow hard hearted toward the prophetic.
[i] From Revelation and the Word, p. 25 (Steve Deckard, ICON Publishing, 2011).
[ii] Throughout this chapter different bible translations and versions are used for clarification of key points. There are numerous translations and versions and reading more than one often helps to shed light on the subject that may not otherwise be apparent. See Appendix A for further study of the key passage II Peter 1:19. The numerous translations and versions of II Peter 1:19 are extracted from bibles contained within PC Study Bible Version 5.
[iii] For further details see Fruchtenbaum, A. (2004), The Footsteps of the Messiah: A Study of the Sequence of Prophetic Events, Ariel Ministries, San Antonio, TX, p. 79, 85, 609.
[iv] For those following along in the commentary Revelation and the Word verses 1-2 are discussed on pages 29-32.
[v] For further reading in the Revelation & the Word see Appendix B.
[vi] Knowledge is one of the most important domains in the development of a true biblical-based worldview. It is also an important domain for development of one’s spiritual worldview, as scripture instructs us in the learning of much specific knowledge beyond the prophetic. See II Corinthians 2:14-16 and Romans 1:18-22. The issue of worldview development within a Creator-based worldview is the subject of the book Developing a Creator-Centered Worldview (Steve Deckard & Dave Dewitt, Vision Publishing). In this book the development of spiritual knowledge and its domain is addressed as one of the Educational Creationist-Based Tenets (p. 91). A true biblical based worldview is rooted in the understanding of God as Creator (Genesis 1:1). Such a spiritual conception leads to the understanding that Jesus Christ is Co-Creator and the one who sustains and holds all things in the universe in place (Colossians 1:16-20).
[vii] Deckard, S. (2011), Revelation & the Word, p. 3031. Icon Publishing Group; www.iconpublishinggroup.com order from the author: 909 Wellington Dr., Forest, VA 24551 or e-mail: email@example.com.
The issue is that what Peter, the disciples and Jesus said, is in fact true.
Various translations of II Peter 1:19 – with the phrase regarding doing well highlighted.
So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. (NASU)
And we have the prophetic word [made] firmer still. You will do well to pay close attention to it as to a lamp shining in a dismal (squalid and dark) place, until the day breaks through [the gloom] and the Morning Star rises (comes into being) in your hearts. (AMP)
So we have seen and proved that what the prophets said came true. You will do well to pay close attention to everything they have written, for, like lights shining into dark corners, their words help us to understand many things that otherwise would be dark and difficult. But when you consider the wonderful truth of the prophets' words, then the light will dawn in your souls and Christ the Morning Star will shine in your hearts. (TLB)
And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. (NKJV)
Because of that experience, we have even greater confidence in the message proclaimed by the prophets. You must pay close attention to what they wrote, for their words are like a lamp shining in a dark place—until the Day dawns, and Christ the Morning Star shines in your hearts. (NLT)
So we regard the words of the prophets as confirmed beyond all doubt. You're doing well by paying attention to their words. Continue to pay attention as you would to a light that shines in a dark place as you wait for day to come and the morning star to rise in your hearts. (from GOD'S WORD)
We have also a more sure word of prophecy. Whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts. (KJV)
We note that they range from a general “you do well” tone to a strong imperative “you must” tone. Regarding the object of what it is to cause you to do well the texts vary regarding the emphasis. Some place it on the words of the prophets, others one the prophetic word, and some on the message of the prophets. In all translations there is a command type sense regarding heeding and paying attention. This is very similar to the words of Jesus in Revelation 1:3a, “blessed is he who reads, heeds and hears the words of the prophecy,” Jesus is also giving a strong sense of the importance of paying attention to the words of His prophecy since the Revelation is in fact about Him.
That Which John Saw
To get further details on what John saw read the sections as indicated below. These are related to the verb “saw” and discussed in Revelation and the Word.
Revelation & Word Pages
Ø A Vision of Jesus Christ (1:12, 13,17) 39-43
Ø Things to Come (Chapters 4-5) 87-106
Ø A Coming Time of Great Trouble for the Whole Earth 137-162
Ø Angels of God Carrying out Their Created Purposes 130-188
Ø A Great Dragon (Chapter 12) 189-202
Ø A Second Beast (Chapter 13) 203-220
Ø Signs Occurring in Heaven (Chapter 15) 235-240
Ø The Time of the Battle of Armageddon (16:13) 253-256
Ø A Woman and a Beast (Chapter 17) 259-274
Ø The Fall of Babylon (Chapter 18) 275-288
Ø The Coming of Christ (19:11f) 289-304
Ø The Binding of Satan and Related Judgments 305-324
Ø The New Heaven and New Earth (Chapter 21-22) 345-358
Taking the time to view the book of Revelation from the perspective of that which John “saw” assists the reader in getting the broader perspective and building an outline in one’s mind.